Starting at sea level at the dolphin statue in front of Stearns Wharf and ending almost 4,000 feet above sea level at La Cumbre Peak, this calf burning, lung-busting, quad-killing run, is one of the toughest half-marathon courses around. You can leave a shuttle vehicle at the top of the route -- a very good idea for most runners!
What Makes It Great
The first few miles are fairly flat and make for a good warm-up as you wind through town. The real climbing begins after you pass the Santa Barbara Mission and Rocky Nook Park. You know you've hit the half way point when you continue your run into the Los Padres National Forest.
The route is relentless except for about a mile of flat/downhill at mile 11, two miles below La Cumbre. Be sure to bring plenty of fluids and nutrition such as energy gels to get you through these tough 13.1 miles. If you're not actually racing, this route can be shortened at any time or made into an out and back by retracing the original route. The amazing panoramic views of the city and ocean make the pain from endless climbing well worth it.
Total elevation gain is 4,894 ft. with 987 ft. of descending along the way. Your quads will be talking about this one for a while.
Who is Going to Love It
Strong runners with a lust for vertical routes will be in heart-pounding, quad-sizzling heaven. To jog (let alone run) the entire climb is quite a feat. On a hot day, it will humble even the toughest runners. That said, it's a great challenge and the views (and bragging rights) are well worth it.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
Here is a description of the route:
1 - Start at Stearn's Wharf up Lower State Street
2- Right on Haley Street
3 - Left on Santa Barbara Street
4 - Right on Mission Street, continue past the Mission and Rose Gardens
5 - Right on Mountain Drive
6 - Slight Left/Straight onto Gibraltar Road
7 - Right on Camino Cielo Road (just to the first turnout on the right, the TURN AROUND - this adds the 0.1 mile)
8 - After turning around continue on Camino Cielo to La Cumbre Peak